Drowning in Spam 45


For those who have found it hard to get the site or to post comments, we are under a massive and concerted spambot attack. See this:

Download file

The interesting thing is that this is disguised as commercial spam but it isn’t – there are no real car dealers, fake watch salesmen and loan sharks at the end of the links.

Tim and Wibbler have repeatedly said they will look into a simple Captcha device to eliminate these attacks, but it appears not possible, perhaps due to our rickety old blog platform.


45 thoughts on “Drowning in Spam

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  • Vronsky

    “You sound like someone advising teenage girls about sex.”

    Father of two daughters, been there, done that. Heard that “shan’t” many times, usually accompanied by sforzando stamping of the foot, which is very cute.

    But I was a very radical Daddy – told them to cut a swathe through the boys when they had the chance – chastity is a virtue best kept for later life.

  • angrysoba

    “But I was thinking, really, of his general approach of skepticism as first outlined in his ‘A Treatise of Human Nature’. People act is their narrow self-interest, often for short-term gain. The Scottish Enlightenment guys – and thence the US Constitution – attempted to deal with this through constructing a complex system of counterbalances and different, often competing,loci of power. I think that this system has come under threat in recent decades, so that narrow, short-term interests – the arms cartels et al – have come to drive the agenda in an unbalanced way; Eisenhower’s farewell warning, etc.”

    Well, Hume’s skepticism is of the radical variety. It posed rather than answered epistemological problems about knowledge. However, just as he realized about his day to day life, most philosophers of science (and most scientists) find induction is not as extreme a problem as he argues. Every morning when you leap out of bed it is RATIONAL to believe the floorboards will meet your feet because they always have done in the past even if there is NO LOGICAL reason to expect they will be there. So, rational skepticism is preferred over radical skepticism because people cannot possibly function if they permanently give themselves over to the latter.

    But that part is the first book of the Treatise.

    The second book, if I remember correctly is on The Passions, and the third on morals. I believe he thought “sympathy” was a guiding principle of morality, but this was a descriptive rather than prescriptive philosophy as he believed an “ought” cannot be derived from an “is”. Saying that we often do “moral things” because we feel compelled to do so through sympathy isn’t a good enough reason for saying that it proves what we ought, morally, to do.

    So given the way that there IS no necessary inference from IS to OUGHT we OUGHT not to assume there is! (Hang on Humey ole’ chap, haven’t you just contradicted yourself there?)

    Erm, as for the checks and balances thing, it sounds a bit more like Locke (although I could be wrong). I don’t know very much about Hume’s political work.

    However, I do – of course – agree with you that checks and balances are only likely to work effectively when they are not in collusion with each other. If they are then how are they supposed to perform their role of keeping an eye on each other. If however, they are all corrupted by the same rich interests then there no longer is any kind of checks and balances.

    “In short, it is better to do business with other states than to engage in war with them. I think that democracy needs to be rebalanced.”

    Well, surely, but I don’t know how this follows on from what you said earlier.

  • Vronsky

    Hi angry,

    Have you read Popper on Hume’s concerns with induction (Objective Knowledge)? I think it’s a forerunner of the ‘falsification’ stuff (take a seemingly unanswerable proposition and invert it to show that it can be refuted in at least some circumstances). But maybe it actually came after – don’t remember.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    angrysoba, I defer to you on these matters. Man, I need strong coffee before embarking on such topics!

    I remember reading that Adam Smith and a number other Scottish Enlightenment thinkers/ practitioners – John Witherspoon of ?Princeton, for example – directly influenced the Founding Fathers of the US. The whole thing is deeply fascinating. Thanks again.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Angry,

    “Now, I am sure somewhere down the line this will fuel more conspiracy theories.”

    I suspect it might trigger an attempt on his life if he goes through.

  • Clark

    “I suspect it might trigger an attempt on his life if he goes through”.

    My prediction: when Wikileaks release the Russian material, they will also post a new, large, .AES file, similar to “insurance.aes” – it may even be called “kompromat.aes” – and then the Russians, as well as the Americans, will be enthusiastically smearing and denouncing Assange, but simultaneously doing their very best to keep him alive. It may even become a new instance of international cooperation!

    It’d be quite funny to see all three Evil Empires – USA, Russia and China – united in their condemnation of WikiLeaks; it would show just how much they have in common, despite their apparent emnity.

    It’s Power versus The People, folks!

  • dreoilin

    “It’d be quite funny to see all three Evil Empires – USA, Russia and China – united in their condemnation of WikiLeaks”

    That would be funny, Clark. But shouldn’t we also be watching for him to publish something damaging to Israel? The accusation in some of the links posted previously here was that Wikileaks (and the info given to it) is a Mossad operation. I have no idea how likely that is, but some otherwise rational folks seemed very suspicious in that direction.

  • angrysoba

    “Have you read Popper on Hume’s concerns with induction (Objective Knowledge)? I think it’s a forerunner of the ‘falsification’ stuff (take a seemingly unanswerable proposition and invert it to show that it can be refuted in at least some circumstances). But maybe it actually came after – don’t remember.”

    Hi Vronsky,

    Sorry for the delay in replying. As it happens I haven’t read any of the works of Popper (although I should do and will do when time permits), I just happen to know his ideas of falsifiability and have read enough of Hume to know the problems that he is addressing. Consequently I don’t know much about the chronology of his works and I had to cheat by looking at Wikipedia and here I found a phrase from one of his famous works, Conjectures and Refutations, which I am happy coheres with my previous post in which I talked about getting out of bed in the morning:

    “Popper and Hume agreed that there is often a psychological belief that the sun will rise tomorrow, but both denied that there is logical justification for the supposition that it will, simply because it always has in the past. Popper writes:

    “I approached the problem of induction through Hume. Hume, I felt, was perfectly right in pointing out that induction cannot be logically justified.” (Conjectures and Refutations, p. 55)”

    I think the idea of “falsifiability” is a good one in that it proposes that a theory about the world is meaningful only if it is capable of refutation but I understand that Popper often leaned towards a radical conception of this in saying that repeated instances of X don’t validate a theory in any way. I tend to think this is almost as unanswerable as Hume’s problem of induction if taken to a logical extreme.

  • angrysoba

    “I remember reading that Adam Smith and a number other Scottish Enlightenment thinkers/ practitioners – John Witherspoon of ?Princeton, for example – directly influenced the Founding Fathers of the US. The whole thing is deeply fascinating. Thanks again.”

    In a way it is sad that ideas we take for granted so much now were once considered radical in their time and now are considered boring and staid. I share with Craig Murray a real fondness for liberal philosophers especially J.S Mill.

    I couldn’t really tell you whether or not Hume was a liberal (although something about his reported demeanour suggests to me that he was) because I haven’t read his political stuff or his histories. Again, if time permits I am sure I will get around to reading more of him.

  • angrysoba

    “Was David Kelly murdered?”

    No, he wasn’t.

    You could better direct your rage by asking why he committed suicide, IMHO.

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